NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai issued a statement Friday night condemning guard Kyrie Irving’s decision to promote an anti-Semitic film and book on his social media accounts.
“I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of antisemitic disinformation,” tweeted. “I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.”
I’m disappointed that Kyrie appears to support a film based on a book full of anti-semitic disinformation. I want to sit down and make sure he understands this is hurtful to all of us, and as a man of faith, it is wrong to promote hate based on race, ethnicity or religion.
—Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) October 29, 2022
On Saturday, Irving tweeted that he is not anti-Semitic and did not intend to disrespect any religion.
I am an OMNIST and I meant no disrespect to anyone’s religious beliefs. The “Anti-Semitic” label that is being pushed on me is not justified and does not reflect the reality or truth I live in everyday. I embrace and want to learn from all walks of life and religions.
— Hey (@KyrieIrving) October 29, 2022
The NBA issued a statement Saturday night decrying hate speech.
“Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable and runs counter to the NBA’s values of equality, inclusion and respect,” the league said. “We believe we all have a role to play in ensuring such words or ideas, including antisemitic ones, are challenged and refuted and we will continue working with all members of the NBA community to ensure that everyone understands the impact of their words and actions. “
As Rolling Stone initially reported in an article earlier Friday, Irving promoted a movie called “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” that, as the magazine points out, is “stuffed with antisemitic tropes.”
Irving posted a tweet Thursday that linked to the film’s Amazon page. The movie, which was released in 2018, is based on a 2015 book by the same name.
“The Brooklyn Nets strongly condemn and have no tolerance for the promotion of any form of hate speech,” the team said in a statement Friday. “We believe that in these situations, our first action must be open, honest dialogue. We thank those, including the ADL [Anti-Defamation League]who have been supportive during this time.”
Irving, who has not addressed the decision to promote the book and movie, participated in the team’s shootaround Saturday and is expected to speak with reporters after the game against the Indiana Pacers.
Nets guard Joe Harris said he was “not aware” of the controversy surrounding Irving. As for Irving’s attitude during the Saturday walk-through, Harris said it was “business as usual.”
Coach Steve Nash said before the Saturday night home game against the Pacers that he stands by the organization’s statement and added that he doesn’t believe the situation will be a distraction for the team.
“I don’t think our group is overly affected by the situation. We’ve had so many situations over the last two and a half years that I think we kind of built an immunity to some of it,” Nash said. “I also think our guys aren’t that familiar with the material. So if we get a minute to breathe and get a deeper understanding of what actually are the details here then we will, but right now I think guys are trying to focus on the game, I think the organization has stepped up and made a strong statement on their beliefs and you’ll be able to hear from Kyrie when it’s his turn to talk.”